2016-10: Promoting Open Source

Location:  The Working Centre 58 Queen Street South, Kitchener, ON (plan)
Date: October 17th, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Many of us use Free and Open Source software (FLOSS) in our daily lives. But promoting the use of FLOSS within our organizations can be a challenge. What FLOSS does your organization use? How did this come to pass?
What kinds of FLOSS is amenable to adoption by non-profit organizations? What is more challenging?
What are some of the advantages/selling points you have found successful in promoting FLOSS in your organization?
What have been some of the disadvantages/challenges you have faced in promoting FLOSS?


– Tue Oct 18, 7pm: Ruby FLOSS Contributions, Sweet Tooth
+ Boltmade was bought by Shopify!
+ Bring a laptop and a Ruby install
+ Goal: encourage FLOSS contributions and bring visibility to FLOSS
projects in the area
– Sat Oct 22, 4-8pm: Laptop Rescue Mission, Computer Recycling

How do you sell it?

– End users don’t care much about open source
+ They think you need to contribute code
+ Contributing might mean contributing financially or reporting bugs

– Lots of people using the code might make it better
+ But this did not work so well for OpenSSL
+ How do you make people aware of the code that they use?
+ How do you pick the projects to support?
* Apache
* Linux Foundation (they have a Core Infrastructure initiative)
* SPI: Software in the Public Interest

– Do endorsements from famous people matter?
+ Can you get the word out?
+ http://trustmeimlying…­
+ Getting grassroots word of mouth matters a lot
+ Ask for reviews from reviewers

– Maybe it makes sense to throw money at infrastructure projects?
+ Pay somebody to maintain/develop the stuff instead of paying a propreitary software company
+ Again, SaaS has changed this landscape
* Would it even be feasible for SaaS providers to release their software as FLOSS?
* Maybe this is their “community editions”?
* Most community editions take out features

Arguments for Open Source

– Cheap to acquire the software (and nonprofits are cheapskates)
– FLOSS tends to be easier to debug and troubleshoot
+ eg looking through the source of Samba to troubleshoot a problem
+ You can get consultants to fix your software for you
* eg Zikula CMS has 2600 weblinks
* They did an upgrade and he paid somebody $50 to fix it
* eg OSCAR medical records system: we paid somebody to set it up
and customize it for us (OSCAR/CAISI)
– Data migration can be easier: the code is the template for migration
– It is possible for people to develop code coverage and test suites
after the fact
– What would the advantage be if our rollback software was open
+ You could debug the software easier
+ You could see what it is trying to do

Arguments Against Open Source

– Software might be unfamiliar from what people are used to/what they use in school.
– Privacy is important sometimes and you need to trust the code
+ Sometimes privacy is a concern
– Other providers need to use the same application, which is not in
use across the board
+ What about federation? This may not be the issue.

– Software as a Service has taken over the industry
+ Conceptually it is possible to make it FLOSS
+ In practice it usually is not
+ Failure to make SaaS FLOSSy is a failure of sales
* “If you can download the code then what are you selling?”
* Really you are paying people to take care of infrastructure for you


– How quickly can people pick up the software?
– Are we using it to contribute back or just to use it?

– What is the code quality?
+ In proprietary software the code quality may be bad, but hidden
– Are there developers? Is the project being supported.
– How good are the development leads? This is important for stability.
+ eg LibreOffice has good quality according to Coverity

– Who gets paid to develop the code and how?
+ Consultants?
+ Sometimes big companies sponsor developers?

– How friendly is the community?

– People are used to paying for proprietary software but not FLOSS?
+ But people are also used to not paying for online software unless
it is SaaS
+ Open source does not tend to nag people to pay for it
+ Patreon models are becoming more popular
+ Is it enough to fund only a few projects?
+ How do you crowdsource projects? How do you sell the software?
+ We pay for a pfSense gold membership for no reason
* But it is a kind of insurance so that pfSense continues to exist
* Maybe it is a sliding scale fee

– Trust is a huge factor
+ Can our organizations trust the product?
+ Does the website look nice?

– How much support can you get?
– What are your fellow companies using?

– Sometimes interoperability matters
+ TWC cannot use LibreOffice for resumes
(but how does Google Docs play into this?)

Other things

– Libreoffice Online is being developed and is running
+ Done with OwnCloud and Collabora
+ The goal is to sell to government and make sure that all the
government templates are available
+ Canadian requirements for accessibility are more stringent than
* And there are not that many developers working on it

– Is there any antivirus that is FLOSS?
+ There is Clam, which is good for email servers and terrible for

– Is there antiviruses for other operating systems?
+ It exists for Mac and Linux but is not widely used
+ Android is the new Windows and has lots of viruses
+ You don’t want to run everything as root
+ Software stores make this a little better
+ Android updates do not go out as quickly
+ Why is Android such a disaster?
* Too many users?
* Not enough quality control?
* Too many apps?
* Too much fragmentation?
+ Android good practices?
* Be careful about clicking links
* Look at how many people use the app
* There is antivirus software available for Android
+ If you root your phone do you run everything as root?
* No?

– How well has Drupal worked as a CMS?
+ We have been able to modify it.
+ The community is open and friendly
+ Developing core functionality has been hard
+ Major upgrades are difficult
+ Rails makes upgrades easier
* A bunch of modules were backported from Rails 4 to Rails 3

– Can you get university and college students to develop code as part of their coursework?
+ It is real code, not toy projects
+ Contributions that are accepted look good on resumes
+ If the project is organized properly this can still be valuable
+ A lot of student work looks rough
+ LibreOffice has a mentorship project for students

– In digital media programs they used FLOSS so the students could
continue using the software on their own afterwards
+ In the marketplace this software is less popular
+ But the skills are transferable


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